Japan’s ‘green card’ welcome for Indian IT professionals, amid US H1B visa reforms

Japan is introducing a new law to accord permanent residency status to skilled professionals in 1-2 years, even as Donald Trump moves to tighten US visa policy


Japan is introducing the ‘green card’ programme under a plan to attract Indian investment and talent to the country. Japan has also identified IT as a priority area for Indian investment. Photo: AP
Japan is introducing the ‘green card’ programme under a plan to attract Indian investment and talent to the country. Japan has also identified IT as a priority area for Indian investment. Photo: AP

New Delhi: If opportunities for Indian Information Technology (IT) professionals are closing in the US with the new regime proposing new laws to reduce the numbers of H1B visas held by foreign workers including Indians, a new window is opening in the East—Japan.

Under a plan to attract Indian investment and talent to Japan, the Japanese government is introducing a new law to reduce the waiting time for skilled Indians to only 24-48 months’ to obtain a “green card” with permanent residency status.

To be sure, the “green card” programme is open and applicable to all nationalities.

But Indian tech workers hold an advantage. Not only does India have a pool of such a skilled workforce, Japan has also identified IT as a priority area for Indian investment.

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The “green card” system is to be introduced next year, said Shigeki Maeda, executive vice-president of the Tokyo-based Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) that has an office in New Delhi as well.

Under the programme, “talented” or “highly skilled” Indians including IT professionals could get residency status “in one or two years compared to the five or six years in the US and the UK,” Maeda said.

Indian IT firms have been worried about business and employment prospects in the US following Donald Trump’s election as the 45th President of the US. Trump has called for US companies to hire Americans as he pushes ahead with his election promise to create jobs at home. Some bills have also been introduced in the US Senate seeking to more than double the minimum salary of H1B visa holders to $130,000—making it difficult for firms to use the programme to replace American employees with foreign workers, including from India.

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India and Japan signed a social security pact last year—that provides for Indian workers on a short-term contract in Japan exemption from making a social security contribution there—would also be a helpful move for Indian IT professionals in Japan, he said. The pact will also help easy remittance of benefits in case of relocation.

In the case of IT, “India has very advanced technology. Our ICT-related industry does not have the talent and capacity of India,” Maeda told reporters ahead of the “Invest Japan Symposium” organized by Jetro, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Indian industry body CII in New Delhi. “India and Japan will complement each other in this area,” Maeda said.

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According to government statistics, Indian investment in Japan between January 2003 and November 2016 amounted to $468 million while Japanese investment into India between April 2000-September 2016 was to the tune of $ 23.8 billion.

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